US assesses Oberlin College anti-Semitism complaint

The United States Department of Education’s Civil Rights Office admitted in a letter to receiving a formal discrimination complaint filed against Oberlin College in Ohio, plunging the small liberal arts college into an alleged new anti-Semitism scandal.

Jerusalem post reviewed a copy of the government letter from December 2019. The complaint was filed by Melissa Landa, a graduate of Oberlin College, who founded the Alliance for Israel to Counter Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign targeting the Jewish state and hostility towards Jewish students for their pro-Israel views.

Asked about the complaint, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Education said Wednesday: “Thank you for your request. The OCR is unable to confirm receipt of complaints or provide information on ongoing investigations.

The spokesperson dismissed the To post to an open investigations link, but it is still unclear whether the case has been investigated or is still ongoing.

Oberlin president Carmen Twillie Ambar and the college’s communications department did not immediately respond to To post queries.

“Oberlin’s refusal to protect his Jewish students from harassment and intimidation is reprehensible. For six years and throughout two Oberlin administrations, Jewish students and alumni who support Israel have reported to me that they have either been silenced, coerced into anti-Israel activity, or left with no alternative but to transfer to another institution, ”Landa said on Wednesday.

“The US Department of Education has a responsibility to thoroughly investigate the discrimination suffered by Jewish students at Oberlin College and to begin to alleviate this discrimination by requiring the College to adopt the IHRA. [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance] definition of anti-Semitism, ”she said.

Mohammad Jafar Mahallati at TEDxThran. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Landa submitted a list of outbreaks of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel incidents from 2014 to 2017.

ANDREW PATINKIN, Class of 2019, told the Jewish press that “Many Oberlin students say that Israel is an oppressive state, and they” repeat a lot of misinformation and lies in the name of “fighting oppression.”

“Unfortunately, this attitude towards Israel is so pervasive that even some Jewish students have taken to denouncing Israel because it makes you a ‘best ally’ for a marginalized group, namely the Palestinians,” a- he said. “In the eyes of these students, if you don’t actively speak out against Israel and its actions, you are a lesser ally and you don’t understand how oppression works, making you a horrible person.

Landa’s complaint contains detailed anti-Israel educational material from religion teacher Mohammad Jafar Mahallati, who served as the Islamic Republic of Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations in the 1980s. According to the complaint, in the fall of 2016, “Oberlin Students Enrolled in Religion 270 with Professor Jafar Mahallati of Islamic Studies and Peace Post Anti-Israel Blogs Online that Reflect Professor’s Lectures and Assigned Readings.”

The complaint alleges that the teaching of the professor’s course involved allegations that “Israel is a colonialist state” and “Israel is an apartheid state”. The complaint quotes him as “supporting Hamas and terrorism.”

The To post learned that Mahallati students were required to blog online to write about how BDS is a peace effort. The German and Austrian parliaments have passed resolutions defining BDS as an anti-Semitic movement reminiscent of the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses in 1930s Germany.

Mahallati did not immediately respond to a To post to question.

The To post revealed in February that Mahallati, in a series of anti-Israel speeches at the UN, had denied the existence of the Jewish state. “The creation of the Zionist entity was itself in violation of the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations,” he said in 1988.

In 1989, Mahallati, who bears the nickname “Professor of Peace” in Oberlin, defended at the UN the first Palestinian intifada – a series of violent protests against Israel – as “the heroic uprising of the Palestinians.”

He appeared to be arguing for a global jihad against Israel. Palestinians are setting an example for Arabs and Muslims around the world in the “holy struggle against oppression and Zionism,” Mahallati told the UN, also that year.

The ex-diplomat denied the legitimacy of Israel at the time, stating that “Palestine is an Islamic territory, an Islamic heritage, and it remains a point of Islamic identity … Its occupation by Zionist usurpers is a transgression against all Muslims in the world and its liberation is therefore a great obligation and a religious commitment.

AFTER THE To postrevelations from Oberlin College David Hertz told student newspaper Oberlin Reviews in April that “the college is aware of the allegations and is taking action to address them.” However, he declined to respond to several To post questions about his investigation into Mahallati and whether the results will be released.

The most serious charges against Mahallati concern his role as a former Iranian envoy in a mass murder in which he “committed crimes against humanity” by covering the slaughter of at least 5,000 innocent Iranian prisoners in 1988 , according to an Amnesty International report titled “Bloody Secrets: Why the Massacres in Iran in 1988 Are Permanent Crimes Against Humanity.” The college’s April investigation also covers Mahallati’s activity during the 1988 atrocities and his documented tirades against the persecuted Baha’i community in Iran.

The organization Oberlin Committee for Justice for the Victims of Mahallati will be holding a protest against him and the leadership of Oberlin College on November 2 from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. in front of the Cox administration building. Growing outrage over the college’s alleged failure to hold Mahallati accountable for his reported “crimes against humanity” sparked the planned protest.

In 2020, the local newspaper Oberlin The Chronicle quoted Lawdan Bazargan, whose brother Bijan, 29, was one of the victims of the 1988 massacre. Bazargan said that when his father asked the authorities for Bijan’s body, they told him that “he was a heretic, so he cannot have a mourning ceremony and we will not reveal his grave. You can’t have a ceremony for him. “

After family members of the victim and human rights experts released their public letter in October 2020 stating that Mahallati had committed “crimes against humanity,” the professor told the To post that “I was in New York throughout the summer of 1988 focusing on peacemaking between Iran and Iraq and received no briefing regarding the executions. There was no communication. from Tehran to the Iranian embassy at the UN informing Iranian diplomats of these incidents.

“During my short-term Ambassadorial post (1987-1989), I focused on peacemaking efforts to end the Iran-Iraq War, the most protracted and devastating war in modern history. “

Mahallati refused to answer many To post the media asked for comment on his allegations of anti-Semitism and anti-Bahá’í propaganda.

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